B’nai B’rith International has condemned an editorial that ran in the July 18 edition of the Utusan Malaysia daily, a government-backed publication, warning against a possible attempt by “foreign Jews” to use a domestic reform movement to interfere in government affairs.
This attempt cites the July 9 march in Kuala Lumpur of some 20,000 people advocating for election reforms as an opportunity for Jewish groups to undermine government initiatives in Malaysia.
The editorial states that Malaysians “cannot allow anyone, especially the Jews, to interfere secretly in this country’s business,” and that “Muslims and Malaysians should not allow any party, especially the Jews, to discreetly interfere in the country’s administration.”
Though no specific plot was mentioned in the editorial, the accusation of a possible Jewish interference in Malaysia’s internal affairs, B’nai B’rith said, is an outlandish claim that promotes anti-Semitic attitudes.
"As many Malaysians rely on government-backed media outlets for news and information, this destructive claim is likely the only information some citizens receive on this issue," the organization said in a statement.
“This claim is preposterous and offensive, made especially harmful by the legitimacy imparted by its dissemination in a government-backed newspaper,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “Turning an internal call for reform into a forum for religious prejudice is unacceptable, and serves only to induce anti-Semitic sentiments.”
Malaysia, an Islamic country, maintains no diplomatic ties with Israel. The Malaysian government strongly supports the Palestinian Authority and has been strongly critical of Israel’s actions in the region.
“The reference to ‘foreign Jews’ within the editorial is anti-Semitic and a clear attempt to demonize and delegitimize Israel – and is a completely foundationless attempt to vilify Jews totally unaffiliated with an internal reform movement,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said.
“It is unacceptable that such hateful accusations are propagated through government-backed media.”